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Response to School Violence Is Inadequate

The issue heats up in the wake up of 16-year-old Derrion Albert's murder in Chicago.

by
Joanne Jacobs

Bio

October 21, 2009 - 12:30 am
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“Quiet and order” are the “foundation of learning” at UNO charter schools in Chicago, reports Education Week. Educated in a safe, disciplined, school community, UNO’s students –  mostly low-income and Latino — outperform the average for Chicago public school students.

For many students in the city that used to “know how,” school is a chaotic and dangerous place — and getting home is even worse. Last year, 34 Chicago students died violently, usually off campus, and 290 were wounded in shootings.

The latest victim, 16-year-old Derrion Albert, is different for two reasons: He was an honor student who stumbled into a brawl between two warring factions at Fenger “Academy” High School. More important, the brutal assault was videotaped by a classmate’s cellphone and shown on the Internet.

In response to the furor, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who was CEO of Chicago Public Schools, pledged federal support to fight youth violence. So far, that amounts to $25 million for crime prevention nationwide.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley pledged more police protection for students on the perilous way home and GED programs for dropouts.

Fenger will get $500,000. As they talked in a downtown hotel, another fight broke out outside Fenger, despite a police presence.

Even before Albert’s murder, Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman announced a $30 million a year violence prevention plan that targets students who fit a profile that predicts who is most likely to be a victim of violence. (They’re also likely to be perpetrators, but that’s not the PC spin.) Black males from troubled families who are in special education or  alternative schools are likely to be involved in violence, the data show. These students are behind in credits, skip school more than 40 percent of the time, and commit one serious school violation per year.

The 1,200 who best fit the profile will be offered paid jobs to keep them busy and matched with “advocates” and social workers.

There will no jobs for students like Derrion Albert, who show up, do the work, and follow the rules. They don’t fit the profile.

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